Lacierda takes cudgels for Gazmin: He 'acted lawfully'
MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday accused former Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin of usurpation of authority for recommending and granting amnesty to Senator Antonio Trillanes IV.
According to the President, Gazmin, who investigated Trillanes' case, was also the one who granted the amnesty, when such power is vested in the Commander-in-Chief.
"In the matter of granting pardon or amnesty, it's a constitutional mandate of the president," Duterte said.
"The power to pardon and the power to grant amnesty with the concurrence of Congress is a presidential power. It cannot be delegated to anybody else. Constitutional mandate 'yan (That's a constitutional mandate)," he said.
Duterte also accused Gazmin of recommending and approving Trillanes' amnesty even without the proper documents.
"Si Voltz, you know, he recommended that a general amnesty be given. And then after his recommendation, he approved it. Siya mismo ang nag-grant. Siya ang nagrecommend, eh bakit ka pa magrecommend eh ikaw din pala ang pipirma 'di diretso ka na (He was the one who granted it. He recommended it, then why did you have to recommend it when you're the one to sign, you could have done it directly)," Duterte said.
"So what's the crime of Voltz? Sabihin ko sa inyo kung ano (I'll tell you what)? Usurpation of authority," he added.
The President said with Gazmin granting amnesty to Trillanes, it seemed as if the former administration was making fun of the law.
"Mabigat kaya 'yan (That's a big deal). Biro mo (Imagine) you pardon criminals in this country and you just delegate it to anybody," Duterte said.
"Parang ginawa nila ang gobyerno na laruan (They turned government into a play thing)," he added.
Gazmin was defense secretary from 2010 to 2016, during the administration of then President Benigno Aquino III.
Speaking to ANC on Saturday, Aquino's former spokesperson Edwin Lacierda dismissed Duterte's allegations against Gazmin.
"There is a lawful designation by the President and the proclamation authorizing the Department of National Defense and its head, actually Voltaire Gazmin, to look into it," Lacierda said.
"There is no irregularity or usurpation of any authority," he added.
Lacierda noted that Gazmin as defense chief "acted lawfully," and that Congress concurred with the grant of amnesty to Trillanes and his fellow mutineers.
Trillanes, in a press conference, also denied Duterte's allegations that Gazmin railroaded his amnesty application.
"Si President Aquino ang nag-grant ng proclamation. Ngayon, lahat lahat ng na-apply ng amnesty, so President Aquino, nag-proclaim ng amnesty, nakalagay doon sino ang magpa-process, which was the DND (Department of National Defense). 'Yun ang mandato ng DND based on the amnesty proclamation," he said.
(President Aquino granted the proclamation. Now, everyone who applied for amnesty, President Aquino proclaimed amnesty, it said there who will process, which was the DND. That's the mandate of the DND based on the amnesty proclamation.)
"Ganoon kasimple. 'Pag nakumpleto mo ang application, nag-comply ka, bibigyan ka ng certificate," Trillanes added.
(It's that simple. When you complete the application and you comply, you will be given a certificate.)
The senator said Gazmin based his recommendations on the applications filed before the DND. A committee then processed the application.
"Si Secretary Gazmin recommended 'yung mga naapprove ng application, to be granted the amnesty. Nagbigay ng approval 'yung presidente," he added.
(Secretary Gazmin recommended whose applications for amnesty were approved. The President was the one who gave the approval.)
Duterte voided Trillanes' amnesty on August 31 and ordered the restoration of criminal and administrative charges against the lawmaker. His proclamation was made public on Tuesday.
Trillanes was charged with coup d'etat before the Makati Regional Trial Court and violation of Articles of War 96 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman) and 97 (conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline) before a military court.
The cases stemmed from Trillanes' and the Magdalo band of junior military officers' takeover of the Oakwood luxury apartments in Makati City on 2003 and of the Manila Peninsula hotel in 2007.
In both instances, the Magdalo protested alleged corruption under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Trillanes won a seat in the Senate in 2007, campaigning from detention, and was reelected in 2013.